Rubies in the Bible – Meaning and Precious Worth

“She is more precious than rubies” (Proverbs 3:15) is one of the more familiar verses in Scripture. Rubies in the Bible are always associated with value and worth. But what is the precise meaning, history, and folklore behind rubies?

Rubies, a Precious Jewel 

According to the Gem Institute of America, rubies are precious gems classified as a red color variety of corundum stones. Most other colors of corundum are called sapphires. Rubies are sometimes known as a red sapphire. Some rubies are deep red, while others have a color of a reddish tinge. 

Classified with a Mohs hardness value of nine, rubies are the hardest minerals known to exist (only diamonds are harder). The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, located in Washington, D.C., houses one of the greatest collections of the world’s finest rubies.

Folklore Around Rubies 

The ruby has accumulated a host of legends over the centuries. According to the Gem Institute of America, early cultures treasured rubies for their similarity to the redness of the blood that flowed through their veins. They believed that rubies held the power of life. 

Ancient Hindus believed that those who offered fine rubies to their god Krishna were granted rebirth as emperors. Hindus divided rubies into four categories, calling the true Oriental ruby a Brahmin. Someone in possession of a Brahmin was believed to have the advantage of perfect safety.

People in India believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies. In Burma (a ruby source since at least 600 AD), warriors possessed rubies to make them invincible in battle. Like all reddish gemstones that resembled the color of blood, this gemstone was thought to make the wearer invincible to wounds. 

According to “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones”, people in antiquity believed that rubies (like diamonds) were created by a bolt of lightning. They also believed that a real ruby generated light from within the red stone itself.

Rubies in the Bible 

Rubies appear less than a dozen times in the Bible in three contexts: virtuous women, the value of wisdom, and as a precious stone. Interestingly, the New Testament does not reference rubies.

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the exact meaning of the Hebrew word in the Old Testament is uncertain. Some render the original word as ruby, red coral, pearl, and even mother of pearl.

The Hebrew word “odem” used in Ezekiel 28 is uniquely translated as ruby: “You were in Eden, God’s garden. You were covered with gold and every precious stone: carnelian, topaz, and moonstone; beryl, onyx, and jasper stone; lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald” (Ezekiel 28:13). 


1. A Virtuous Woman

The book of Proverbs mentions rubies twice, both in context to the value or price of a virtuous woman:

  • She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:15). 
  • A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10). 

The unambiguous meaning is that a capable wife and the kind of woman with strength of character and true wisdom is a worthy woman. Such a positive affirmation for godly women! 


2. Value of Wisdom

Scripture also provides analogies between the value of wisdom and rubies:

  • Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies” (Job 28:18). 
  • For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).
  • Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel” (Proverbs 20:15). 

Wisdom means far more than simply making good decisions. Rather, it encompasses God’s way of applying His wisdom to every area of our lives. After all, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:17, 9:10)


3. A Precious Stone

Finally, the Bible references rubies as basically a precious stone. The ruby was one of the stones mentioned in the high priest’s breastplate: “You shall mount on it four rows of stones: the first row shall be a row of ruby, topaz, and emerald” (Exodus 28:17).

Rubies are also mentioned in Isaiah 54 in verses referencing the eternal covenant of peace: “And I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of beryl stones, and all your walls of precious stones” (Isaiah 54:12). 

Merchant traders offered rubies as part of their goods to buyers: “Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of thy handiworks: they traded for thy wares with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and rubies” (Ezekiel 27:16). 

Value of Rubies 

Rubies are precious gemstones treasured around the world as a valuable jewel. The color of the ruby and its high value make rubies one of the most valuable gemstones in the world. 

The Sunrise Ruby is the most expensive in the world. This 25.59-carat rare jewel holds two records. First, it’s the most expensive ruby in the world valued at over $30 million. Second, it’s the most expensive colored gemstone in the world. 

The Sunrise Ruby is a Burmese ruby with the ideal “Pigeon’s Blood” red variety color. Currently, it is encased in a ring of fine gold surrounded by diamond settings of stones. 


Bottom Line

Rubies have been classified as one of the most precious stones created by God. Time has not diminished people’s desire to own a multitude of rubies. Rubies continue to be one of the most sought-after gems in the world. 

Most importantly, God’s Word remains steadfast that rubies represent the value of wisdom and virtuous women. 

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About the Author

Donna is a sought-after speaker, multi-published author, and Bible teacher. Her path from unchurched to becoming passionate about sharing Jesus was difficult. Read about her God-breathed journey: “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, visit her here.

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